Laura Isabel: Prologue – Chapter 1 of 5

Written by Harold McNeill on October 19th, 2010. Posted in Biographies


Laura Isabel Skarsen (McNeill)(Wheeler)
In Memory of
Laura Isabel Skarsen (McNeill) (Wheeler)
A True Canadian Pioneer
1918 – 2008

Link to Part 1 A New Beginning 
Link to part 2
 The Early Years
Link to Part 3 The Young Woman
Link to Part 4 A New Beginning
Link to Part 5 The Final Chapter

Laura Isabel: Prologue – Chapter 1 of 5

It is amazing how much the world changed during Laura’s lifetime. Born in a Southern Alberta dust storm, at five years old she was on a wagon train with her parents and grandparents as they headed to Northern Saskatchewan in order to create a new life on a homestead.

She grew into adulthood in the Great Depression as clouds of dust blanketed the prairies and jobless men road freight trains in search of work. The ‘great’ depression barely ended when the Second World War seized the world in it’s powerful grip. It was a character building period that began in the ashes of one world war and ended with the euphoria that accompanied the years following World War II.

The first 30 years of her life were spent without the benefit of electricity or running water, with food that was largely home grown and preserved by the family. The long, sometimes, bitterly cold prairie winters, created a family closeness that would hold for a lifetime.

Laura and every sibling was born at home and medical help was often days away.  Families frequently numbered ten or more and everything was shared among family and friends whenever the need arose.

For the next 60 years Laura lived and watched as the world of technology took mankind to the moon, built a space station and explored Mars as everyone watched from their living room; a world where families communicated instantly by email and maintained daily contact by sharing pictures, stories and playing games on Facebook.

Even well into her eighties, Laura was willing to do and try new things – like a purchasing a new Digital Video Recorder (DVR) for her TV. Make no mistake that little gadget can frustrate a technologically savvy thirty something so it was neat to phone Laura and hear her say, “Just a moment while I pause this program” or if you dropped by and she was in the middle of her favourite daytime show say, “It’s okay, I can watch it later I have it recorded, can you stay for coffee?”

Harold and Lynn McNeill
June 2008

Footnote:

The following short biography first appeared in a Laura’s Heritage Cookbook, completed in the spring of 2008 as surprise for her 90th birthday party.  The idea of the book originated with Lynn while mom was living with our family in Victoria in 2005.  When mom came to stay, she brought with her a large file filled with her favorite recipes; Most were handwritten, a few typewritten, a few torn from other books and many had little notes jotted in the margins to remind her of the source of the recipe, a story associated with that recipe or another small memory.

Unbeknown to mom, Lynn spirited the recipes away, photocopied each of the more than two hundred pages and secreted the copies for future use. Over the next three years Lynn transcribed the entire package, all with the intention that one day compiling a recipe book.

With mom’s 90th birthday was approaching in 2008, there seemed no better time to put the plan into action.  Over several weeks Lynn categorized and formatted the recipes using a program designed for that purpose.  Meanwhile, I began searching for photographs for insertion in the book and, as well, began writing a short biography to be used as an introduction. The biography, with corrections and updates, is presented in this five part blog entry.

The whole process took much longer than expected and as the clock clicked toward the day of our departure from Victoria, we frantically worked to complete the final draft. It was taken to the printer two day’s before our departure and on the evening before departure, the first 150 copies came off the press.

For this blog entry, a larger selection of photographs represent each of the four major periods of mom’s life. More in depth stories of the life and times of Mom, Dad and our family are presented in the Family Stories section.

Harold McNeill
October 2010

Link to part 2 The Early Years

Link to Part 3 The Young Woman

Link to Part 4 A New Beginning

Link to Part 5 The Final Chapter

 

(953)

(Visited 203 times, 1 visits today)

Trackback from your site.

Comments (3)

Leave a comment

 

Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold

  • Terrance

    January 5, 2019 |

    A VERY COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS. ALL POLITICIANS SHOULD READ THIS.

  • Harold McNeill

    December 23, 2018 |

    Thanks Sis. I will be uploading as Hi-Def so the photos can be viewed full screen. Brother